Labour confident of success in by-election

Party expects to beat SNP in Glasgow just 16 months after heavy loss in city

Labour is quietly confident that history will not repeat itself today when voters go to the polls in a parliamentary by-election in Glasgow North East.

In July last year, the party suffered a spectacular defeat in a by-election in Glasgow East, one of its safest seats, where its 13,507 majority was turned into a 365 winning margin for the Scottish National Party (SNP) – a swing of 22.5 per cent. It provoked the first of two failed attempts by rebel Labour backbenchers to oust Gordon Brown as Prime Minister.

So Labour was understandably jittery about the contest in Glasgow North East, caused by the resignation in June of Michael Martin when he stood down as Commons Speaker and joined the House of Lords. This time, however, there has been little sign of the SNP bandwagon that rolled so strongly last year.

Mr Brown was confident enough of victory to campaign in the contest, in a break with recent tradition. He would probably not have done so had Labour officials privately been predicting defeat. The bookmakers Betfair last night made Labour 1-4 favourites to win the seat, putting the SNP at 4-1 and any other party at 199-1.

The seat, which includes one of Glasgow's most deprived estates, Possil Park, is seen as solid Labour territory. Lord Martin of Springburn, who takes his title from another part of the constituency, had a majority of 10,134 over the SNP at the 2005 election, when there was a 6.6 per cent swing to the SNP. In line with the convention among the three main parties, the Tories and Liberal Democrats did not put up a candidate against the Commons Speaker.

At the European Parliament elections in June, Labour gained 41 per cent of the vote in the constituency, with the SNP on 25 per cent.

Labour officials claim their candidate, William Bain, has outshone the SNP's standard-bearer David Kerr, accusing him of making "gaffes" such as claiming he was born in two different places and not knowing that the level of Jobseeker's Allowance is £64.39 a week. Unemployment is the highest in any Scottish constituency at 12 per cent, well above the national average of 7.9 per cent, and the 17th highest in the UK as a whole.

Mr Bain, a 36-year-old former lift engineer and a payroll clerk who now teaches public law, was joined on the campaign trail by the comedian Eddie Izzard, who said he had a chance encounter with Mr Bain while running a charity marathon in Glasgow during the summer. "I'm very supportive of any Labour Party candidate standing in any election," he said. "It's great that my timing's absolutely perfect playing here in Glasgow. So I can come back and do this properly."

Yesterday, Labour said the poll would be a "referendum on the treatment of Glasgow" by the SNP government in Scotland. It said the budget for the coming year would see a cut in the city's housing budget and a failure to build new schools there.

Mr Kerr, a 35-year-old former BBC journalist who was himself aided by party leader Alex Salmond yesterday, insisted that after 74 years of Labour taking the area for granted, it was time for change. "Voters have seen the success of the last two years of SNP government, and it's time to bring some of that success to Glasgow and to Westminster," he said. "Labour's campaign has been built on smears and scaremongering. It has nothing positive to say about the party's record or ideas for this area." Eileen Baxendale, who is standing for the Liberal Democrats, said: "If people want to wash away years of Labour neglect then they should vote for the Liberal Democrats."

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
News
Robyn Lawley
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Arts and Entertainment
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
newsBloomsbury unveils new covers for JK Rowling's wizarding series
News
scienceScientists try to explain the moon's funny shape
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
As Loki in The Avengers (2012)
filmRead Tom Hiddleston's email to Joss Whedon on prospect of playing Loki
Voices
voices In defence of the charcoal-furred feline, by Felicity Morse
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior IT Trainer - Buckinghamshire - £250 - £350 p/d

£200 - £300 per day: Ashdown Group: IT Trainer - Marlow, Buckinghamshire - £25...

Education Recruitment Consultant- Learning Support

£18000 - £30000 per annum + Generous commission scheme: AER Teachers: Thames T...

All Primary NQT's

£100 - £120 per day + per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Description Calling a...

Supply Teachers Needed in Thetford

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Supply teachers neede...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star